In these tough economic times consumers need to ensure they are spending every last dime conservatively. I have put together some tips that one can use to save energy as well as looking at devices offered by “snake oil” salesmen that are reported to save energy, when in fact there is no truth to their claims.
- Ensure when purchasing electrical equipment, ensure correct voltage and frequency i.e. 110/120 V @ 60 Hz or 220 V @ 60hz.
- When purchasing refrigerator (two doors), where possible purchase those with automatic humidity control feature. You can tell this by checking if the “black coils” are located to the back of the unit and if the unit has an Energy saving switch in the refrigeration compartment. If either is present it may not be the most energy efficient refrigerator available, as either indicates the presence of heater elements. It’s these heater elements that really kills you electricity bills.
- Electronic equipment, like televisions, CD players etc which has onboard clock consumes power even when turned off, this is known as standby power. To eliminate this usage considers the purchase and installation of power strips with built in switches. The equipment are then plugged into this and can switched when not being used.
- For person using water heaters, consider the purchase and installation of timers for these units (you will however need a competent electrician to install this unit).
- For your water heaters, keep thermostat settings between 108 – 110 Deg F. Most humans are unable to shower in water above this temp. By setting higher you will be wasting energy.
- Limit use of hot water to only where that is necessary (bathing/washing greasy utensils), less hot water usage means less run time of your water heater.
- Limit use of washing machine to full loads only. Motor efficiency increases when fully loaded resulting in energy savings, in addition you also save on water and detergent usage when your machine is fully loaded.
- Keep a seal plastic bag of water in your toilet tank. It reduces the volume of water each time you flush your toilet. If the bag holds a gallon of water, it will displace and gallon of water, thus you save one gallon per flush.
- Buy and install low flow showerheads; these are rated at 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute). A standard showerhead used in the region of 5gpm, so over an average 10 min shower you save an average of 12.5 gallons of water.
- Stay away from electrical plug in devices that are said to reduce energy by reducing amps used, they do not work
Today there are many devices on the market, which are reported to save energy for the residential customer. What I have found out is there has been quite a bit of deception going on, as these sales person are really trying to rip off the consumer.
The trick being used by the sales people, who even appear on TV shows on NBC, ABC and you tube, shows these devices when hooked up to your power mains, lowering the amps used.
That part is true, but that does not translate to reduced energy usage and here is why.
Most people believe that:
KW = Current (I) x Voltage (V) – that is wrong. (1000W = 1Kw)
KW = V x I x pf (pf = power factor).
What these so-called energy savers do is to reduce current by increasing the power factor in your system.
For commercial and industrial companies, they are punished by the utility companies for low power factor and pay what is called a demand charge of KVA charged, billed as a separate line item on their electricity bill.
So a device like the above that actually increases the power factor in these companies actually is beneficial to them, as they do enjoy some cost savings by having good power factor.
The trick is the residential customer does not pay for power factor so no matter how you increase it, there is no savings to be had, as your KWH consumed does not get any lower.
Going back to the equation above, lets make some assumption.
V = 120
I = 10 a (Current as measured at your mains with a amprobe)
Pf = 0.80
W = 120 x 10 x 0.8 = 960 W
Or KW = 0.960 ( 960/1000)
Over say a 20hrs period your electrical consumption would be
KW x h = 0.960 x 20= 19.2 Kwh ( now this is what you will see on your bill)
So you decide to buy and install an energy saving device and you see the following.
V = 120 (does not change)
I = 8.5 amps ( 15% reduction)
Pf = 0.92 ( 15% improvement)
Over a 20 hr period your electrical consumption would be
Kwh = V x I x pf x 20
= 120 x 8.5 x 0.92 x 20
= 18.76 Kwh
Total savings average 2.23 % or 0.44 kwh per day or 13.2kwh per 30 day billing cycle.
The cost per Kwh in Jamaica is rough $18.5
So the savings would be $18.5 x 13.2 x 12 = $2930.4 per yr
Cost of the device averages US$ 250 each or $22,500
Payback = 22,500/2930 = 7.7 yrs.
So economically it makes no sense to buy the device.
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